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Pranab evades talk of Maran replacement, affirms DMK ties

Pranab evades talk of Maran replacement, affirms DMK ties
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First Published: Sat, Jul 09 2011. 02 01 PM IST
Updated: Sat, Jul 09 2011. 02 01 PM IST
Chennai: Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee who arrived in Chennai to meet Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) leader M. Karunanidhi amidst the din of the second generation scam merely confirmed the continuation of the alliance with the DMK without clarifying changes to the cabinet.
Revelations of the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) inquiry of the second-generation spectrum case, which landed Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi in prison, forced his grand-nephew Dayanidhi Maran to resign this week from the post of Union textiles minister. Maran’s resignation has speeded up the urgency to shuffle ministerial berths.
“This is my first visit to Chennai after the state assembly election,” Mukherjee said coming out of an hour-long meeting with Karunanidhi, referring to the state polls in April in which the DMK suffered a thumping defeat.
Maran, who returned to Chennai from Delhi on Friday evening, was present at the gate to greet Mukherjee on his arrival at Karunanidhi’s residence at 10 am and also walked him to the car as the finance minister left to attend another meeting.
“I called on the leader to explain the current political situation,” the finance minister said. “There has been a lot of speculation about the alliance between the DMK and the Congress. My submission would be the alliance is there. The alliance will continue and will be strengthened.”
The younger brother of media magnate Kalanidhi Maran, who owns Sun TV Network, is the fourth minister to have resigned from the council of ministers since the government came to power in 2009. Besides Maran and Raja, the others to have resigned are Shashi Tharoor, who was accused of impropriety in the Indian Premier League controversy, and Prithviraj Chavan, who replaced Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, also accused of irregularities in allotment of houses for war widows.
Shares of Sun TV have slipped 3% since Maran’s announcement and closed at Rs 318.85 in Friday trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
At present, Karunanidhi’s son M K Alagiri is the lone DMK nominee in the Union cabinet.
The DMK is reportedly not in a hurry to name replacements for Maran and Raja. However, the names of DMK parliamentary leader TR Baalu, party spokesman TKS Elangovan and AKS Vijayan are doing the rounds.
“I don’t think the cabinet reshuffle is going to be a key issue for the DMK because they would like to be part of the government without being a part of the Cabinet,” said A.S. Panneerselvan, executive director of Panos South Asia, a group that supports investigative journalism. Panneerselvan is writing a book on Karunanidhi. “Being part of the cabinet could hurt them. Dayanadhi Maran and team were the ones desperately trying to cling on to the cabinet.”
CBI, in its status report on the 2G probe submitted in the Supreme Court last Wednesday, said that Maran, who was telecom minister in 2004-07, had abused his powers in issuing licences. The 71-page report alleged that Maran forced C. Sivasankaran, the founder of telecom firm Aircel, to sell his stake to another company close to the Maran family.
A smiling Maran who exited Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram residence in central Chennai close to noon didn’t answer any media queries but waved to reporters from the front seat of his sports utility vehicle.
Anupama.c@livemint.com
PTI contributed to this story
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First Published: Sat, Jul 09 2011. 02 01 PM IST